Pearl Dace (Semotilus margarita)
The pearl dace is a stout-bodied minnow that reaches lengths of up to 6 inches, 3-4 inches being average. It is dusky mottled on the upper sides and silvery on the lower sides. During the breeding season, males have a pink to red-tinted stripe along their lower sides, and the upper sides of the pectoral fins bear paired rows of small, sharp tubercles. In New York, the northern subspecies of pearl dace is limited to the Adirondacks and tributaries of southeastern Lake Ontario. The southern subspecies of pearl dace is common in the Allegheny, Susquehanna, and Genesee river systems. Scattered populations through mid-New York may represent intergrades between the two subspecies. This fish can be found in the cool, boggy waters of lakes and ponds and in the cold headwater streams often associated with trout. It spawns in stream from late spring to early summer. No nest is built, but the small spawning area is guarded by the male. Pearl dace are forage fish for larger sport fishes in some waters. They feed on aquatic insects, free-floating animal plankton, and a variety of other small aquatic organisms.
Distribution of the pearl dace in NY state. Dark dots represent where actual samples of pearl dace were taken. White dots represent historic distributions.
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